Vilgam Vihara in Trincomalee District is an ancient temple of an interesting Tamil and Buddhist history. It is also spelt Velgam Vehera and not to be confused with a the temple Vilgam Rajamaha Vihara near Ambalantota. Vilgam Vihara is known to Tamils as Natanar Kovil.
Vilgam Vihara is situated just 14 kilometres north-west from Trincomalee, not far from Kanniyai hot wells and on the way from there to Nilaveli Beach via Periyakulam tank. Though the temple is said to date back to the 3rd century B.C.E (early Anuradhapura period), the ruins that can be seen here today are mostly from the Chola period and the subsequent early Polonnaruwa period in the 11th century. According to one of the rock inscriptions both most powerful Chola Kings, Rajaraja and his son and co-regent and successor Rajendra, donated a herd of buffaloes to the temple to provide ghee for a kind of eternal lamp.
The archaeological zone is dominated by an early example of a huge pilimage (image house) with a the tall granite Buddha statue in its centre, of an architectural type that became typical for the Polonnaruwa period.
Scattered here and there in the excavation area are stone bowls and yantra galas. Two stone baths can be seen on the jungle side of the enclosure, only one of them is inside the walls of the ancient temple’s compound. On a rock upon this hill is an inscription left by a general of King Bhatiyatissa II from the 2nd century. It mentions that the site was named Abhagara after the general’s name, Abhaya.
To read more about Vilgam Vihara, please read our article called Velgam Vehera...
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